Shielding Preston woman given special 60th birthday wishes from famous faces

After five months of shielding and seeing her birthday plans fall to ruin because of the lockdown restrictions, Deb Jacobs, from Fulwood, was surprised to receive birthday messages from loved ones, friends and a few famous faces.

Wednesday, 26th August 2020, 3:54 pm
Updated Wednesday, 26th August 2020, 4:00 pm
60 year old Deb has been shielding for five months, but was able to celebrate her special birthday with an unexpected surprise

Most people could only wish for their favourite author or actor wish them a happy birthday on their special day.

Preston's local restrictions meant that 60-year old Deb Jacobs was dreading spending her birthday at home alone, but she received unexpected surprise on BBC Lancashire on Tuesday.

Her favourite author, Samantha Shannon, stepped in to wish her a happy birthday. To indulge her love of beards, Britain's best beard Brian Blessed gave his wishes, along with a personalised letter from her favourite actor Toby Jones.

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Deb said: "My celebrations had all fallen to ruin and I was sad because I wanted to see all the people I love. Then all of a sudden my boss and friend Danielle came on air to wish me a happy birthday when I was told there were people that had left me lovely messages.

"I couldn't believe it because no one had dropped any hints or anything. I just expected a chat on the radio about experiencing my birthday in lockdown but no, it was surprise after surprise after surprise.

"I was very nearly on the floor it was so lovely and kind. I adore Samantha Shannon's writing so I was so pleased. The letter from Toby Jones was wonderful and so personal and well thought out. At this point, I was just about in bits when Brian Blessed wished me a happy birthday. I do like men with beards so I was absolutely gobsmacked."

Deb said that the heartfelt messages from daughter Cat and sister Emma left her with a lump in her throat - before then being surprised with a bombardment of messages from famous faces.

Deb and daughter Cat, from Fulwood.

Suffering with asthma left the 60-year old Lush worker bound to a hospital bed last year as she feared for her life. She was determined to shield throughout the pandemic in fears that she wouldn't survive the virus if she caught it.

"I haven't seen my daughter Cat in six months which is the longest time I have gone without seeing her. I have been shielding since March 17 to protect myself and have been on furlough from my job in Preston city centre," she said.

"I originally was planning a socially distanced garden party with all my friends and family, but the new lockdown in Preston meant that I couldn't have anyone in my house or in my garden. The awful weather meant I couldn't meet any friends in a park, so the plans all fell to ruin."

Deb's situation has been less than unusual during the Covid-19 pandemic, that placed older adults at a higher risk of contracting the virus.

And after coronavirus cases began to rise in Lancashire, Preston was introduced to local lockdown measures that meant people were unable to socialise within their home or gardens.

BBC Lancashire's Graham Liver had seen Deb's social media posts about her failed birthday plans, and stepped in to help out live on air with an array of heartfelt messages.

"I really wanted to protect myself as much as possible. It is a high price to pay without seeing my sister, daughter and friends, but I am willing to pay it for my safety," said Deb.

"Living alone, mostly I have been quite well because I am a very cheerful person and have a house to myself, with a garden and a pond. I have spent my time reading books and painting."

Currently, lockdown restrictions in Preston show no sign of easing, despite Coronavirus cases seeing a decline.